Making Art Accessible for Economically Disadvantaged Children

Categories: ASC Projects, Blog

How do you get young kids interested in art? Give them a paintbrush, canvas and a little direction.

That is what the YWCA of the Central Carolinas did for 161 economically disadvantaged children.

Partially funded with a $7,500 ASC Cultural Access grant, their arts enrichment program allowed children, ranging in age from 5 to 12, to visit the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture and brought local artist Sherrica ‘Swan’ Cole to each of the YWCA sites to teach the children about different types of art, art history and how to create their own masterpiece.

“She held various sessions on different artists and different types of art, how to mix colors and how to use emotions when creating art,” said YWCA Chief Philanthropy Officer Anita Self. “She was there to encourage each child and help them to see if it didn’t turn out perfectly to let it dry and they could paint over it and start again.”

Self said the opportunity for art exploration allowed the children to succeed by seeing what didn’t work.

Upon completion of their artwork, the children were able to showcase what they’d been working on to their family and friends. The visitors to the show selected the best paintings, with the winner’s work hung at the Gantt Center.

“It was important for us to be able to show the kids their art could hang in a museum,” Self said. “It lets them see their world isn’t so separate from the art world.”

The YWCA plans to continue the program this summer with additional funding secured through the Target Foundation. The program will add additional components for the children who have already participated.

Self said this program has shown the children they serve that art is accessible and that they don’t have to be Picasso to create great work.

“They’ll probably never go back to construction paper and crayons.”